Macbeth was written between 1603 and 1606. It was written with King James in mind, as he was interested in witchcraft and the supernatural. In the play ‘Macbeth’, William Shakespeare presents both characters Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in general evil. In the beginning of the play Macbeth meets the weird sisters. The weird sisters make prophecies, the first witch greeted Macbeth with his proper title of “Thane of Glamis”. This surprised Macbeth because he did not know these women. The second prophecy was that he would become “Thane of Cawdor”. And then the third witch said “All hail! King that will be!”. The witches have evil inverted values, they think and say, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”. This means to the witches that foul is acceptable and pleasant but fair is immoral and wicked. At the beginning of the play Macbeth is not very evil but he is violent, however Macbeth’s wife Lady Macbeth is very ruthless and manipulates Macbeth. During act one scene three Macbeth starts thinking about sinful actions, and we hear this during his soliloquy. At this stage Macbeth does not like thinking about murdering king Duncan because he cannot imagine himself doing such an evil and unnatural thing. In the soliloquy he feels the evil deed of murder frightening, he says;
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Macbeth is thinking of committing murder so he can become king. Lady Macbeth is evil from the start of the play and feels Macbeth is too kind, he is gentle and pleasant like a baby. Lady Macbeth expresses this opinion and says, “He is too full of the milk of human kindness”.
Lady Macbeth reads the letter Macbeth has sent her, it tells her about his victory in battle and his meeting with the witches. She calls upon the evil spirits herself so she is not woman like and weak, therefore she can be strong. Lady Macbeth believes the spirits are able to take away her femininity so she can help Macbeth. She says “unsex me here”, this indicates that she wants to become a man so she can be cruel and brutal. She is greatly influenced by the supernatural and wishes to pour her evil spirits in Macbeth’s ear, “He thee hither, That I may pour my spirits in thine ear”. Lady Macbeth uses words that express images of evil. One of the words is “raven” which shows evil because black birds eat dead animals. The raven is a main predator. She says the phrase “make thick my blood”, she is calling upon dark spirits to thicken her blood so she will be able to gain the courage and strength to commit murder. In act one scene five Lady Macbeth uses business language to suggest to Macbeth that she could kill king Duncan, she uses euphemisms. She puts aside what she has just read from her husband in the letter, she becomes practical and business like about the arrival of king Duncan;
“He that’s coming Must be provided for: and you shall put This night’s great business into my dispatch.”
Lady Macbeth uses the words “provided for, night’s great business and despatch”, she is trying to persuade Macbeth to commit murder so he can be completely evil. Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to look like the “innocent flower” but remain wicked and cruel inside. Lady Macbeth portrays herself as cold and heartless and says to Macbeth he has to act normally in front of the king otherwise he may suspect something is wrong;
“Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men May read strange matters.”
Macbeth has second thoughts and realises he has no reason to kill King Duncan, other than his ambition to become King. Macbeth does not want to damage his fine reputation by committing this crime.
“I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself”
Macbeth feeling this way leads on to Lady Macbeth showing her evil, she expresses that she will not love Macbeth until he wants to kill the king. Lady Macbeth shows this by saying;
“From this time Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard To Be the same in thine own act and valour”
Lady Macbeth carries on convincing Macbeth that it is right for him to kill the king. She challenges his manhood and says if he was a real man he would commit murder. Lady Macbeth has made a plot to kill the king, this shows she is malicious. An evil line that stands out to me throughout her thought is;
“What not put upon his spongy officers, who shall bear the
guilt of are great quell?”
Lady Macbeth not only pleads with Macbeth to commit murder but she also wants to put the blame on King Duncan’s servants, so her and her husband will be cleared of sin and guilt. Lady Macbeth has the same belief as the witches, she believes King Duncan’s death is a necessary act to achieve their abition. This is inverted values, which the witches share too. After reading this play, I can see that Lady Macbeth is very scheming and controls Macbeth. The action of committing murder shows that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are very lethal and poisonous humans. They will both do anything to achieve their goals and get what they want. In act one scene two Macbeth uses related diction of witchcraft by speaking the words “bat”, “Hecate’s”, “beetle”, “nights”, “peal” and “dreadful”. Then Macbeth tries to in justify his sin of killing King Duncan, to make himself become stronger he murders his friend Banquo. This illustrates his strength of evil. The evilness of the killing brings Macbeth and Lady Macbeth closer and they are reunited through evil. Macbeth next uses inverted values like the weird sisters and Lady Macbeth. He speaks to the murderer; “But Banquo’s safe?” This basically means Banquo is dead. As a result safe is foul and dead is fair. During act three scene three Macbeth says; “to the weird Sisters: More shall they speak”. This implies Macbeth is insecure and evil because he chooses to go to see the witches and hear their prophecies. Macbeth continues to wade to the evil side, he thinks he might as well kill more people because it is too hard to go back to the respectable and moral side. He states this by saying;
“…I am in blood Stepped in so far, that, should I wade
no more, Returning were as tedious as go over”
Also by stating; “We are yet but young in deed.” This means himself and Lady Macbeth have not killed many people because they are so young, we could assume this is another prophecy. Macbeth already knows from the weird sister’s prophecy that no men born of women can harm him, but Macbeth expresses pure evil because he chooses still to kill Macduff to be doubly sure. Macbeth starts to overrule the weird sisters and become more evil than them, he starts to curse the witches. The witches become frightened of him and are afraid of what he will do. He speaks;
“I will be satisfied: deny me this, And an eternal curse
fall on you! let me know.”
Macbeth feels time has anticipated him in the evil actions he was going to carry out; “Time, thou anticipat’st my dread exploits”
To conclude Lady Macbeth was a tyrant, she was the ruler of Macbeth. However Macbeth was weak and powerless. But throughout the play Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s roles reverse, Lady Macbeth became less evil and Macbeth became more evil. His evil intensified because of the supernatural influences from the witches, his wife’s strong influence she had upon him and Macbeth’s ambitions to become King. I feel Macbeth’s strong ambition overruled his caring human nature.